Foundation Corona Committee, 98th meeting on April 1st, 2022

Scott Ritter (fmr Marine intel, UN WMD inspector)

in conversation with Viviane Fischer, Reiner Fuellmich, Alex Thomson

(Original language: English)

[Transcript from Team corona-ausschuss-info.com + Ed]


Viviane Fischer: [02:32:09]
Yeah, so now we’re going to talk to Scott Ritter. He’s a former Marine… Corps intelligence officer, and he served with the UN, implementing arms control treaties in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq, overseeing the disarmament of… WMDs–

Reiner Füllmich:
That’s weapons of mass destruction.

Viviane Fischer:
Oh, weapons of mass destruction, as a UN weapons inspector from 1991 to through 1998, and he later became an outspoken critic of the US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Reiner Füllmich:
Scott, are you with us? Hang on, maybe not. And also Alex Thompson is with us, because he has the expertise to guide us and help us out when we don’t know what question to ask. We do know a lot– we have a lot of questions, but I would very much like to talk to Scott Ritter now, because I have seen some video clips with him and he’s one of the most interesting people and one of the most knowledgeable people with respect to the current crisis in Ukraine. Scott are you with us?

Scott Ritter:
I am. Good morning.

Reiner Füllmich:
Oh wow, great. Scott, I just mentioned I saw a great video, a great interview that you did for Rick Walker and Brendan Kennedy to Canadians. And I… all of us, were really impressed, because it… sort of confirmed what many geopoliticians had told us about the situation in Ukraine. Meaning: we’re only seeing… one little piece of the picture, which is probably falsified by the mainstream media, all of the geopoliticians who we spoke with told us there is another side to this story. And one of the best people to talk to is Scott Ritter. I– yeah, go ahead.

Scott Ritter: [02:34:24]
No, you have me. So I’m… glad to be here, and I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you… have.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yes. One of the things you said in that video, in that interview, is that you would not for a second deny that the Ukrainian troops are very competent. They have been– they have received billions of dollars from NATO or the US over the last, I don’t know, decade or so. Well trained, lots of soldiers. On the other hand, they cannot win this war. Why is that?

Scott Ritter: [02:35:02]

Scott Ritter

Well, I mean military math is… why. You know, I’ll bring up you know a movie that– or at least a movie reference, or a… piece of history that has become, you know, sort of myth. King Leonidas and the 300 Spartans in the battle of Thermopylae. I mean,
these– you know, depending on which movie you saw, these guys are, you know, all stud warriors. They can… thrust spears better than anybody, hooyah better than anybody. But at the end of the day, when a million arrows come out of the sky, 300 really brave Spartans die.

The Ukrainians are not the Spartans. They’re very good soldiers. They’re very well equipped, and many of them are fighting for a cause that… they believe in, either a right-wing ideology that many in the world find odious, or for their homeland, which many in the world can sympathize with. But either way, they’re… fighting for a cause that… allows them to overcome some of the morale-based issues that usually cause armed forces trouble, like when you get hungry, when you get thirsty, when you run low on ammunition, when you’re suffering casualties. These are the things that tend to break militaries. Thef Ukrainians have shown a surprising resilience, the… ability to stay on and fight. But even despite all this, at the end of the day, military math is military math. The Russians have been able– through a very brilliant campaign that emphasizes some of the basic tenets of maneuver warfare– to shape the battlefield. And Vladimir Putin alluded to this when he… spoke about initiating the special military operation.

[02:36:49]
He said, “[Originally, all we wanted to do is go in and secure the Donbass. But then we were confronted by this mass of Ukrainian troops from 60 and 100 thousand that have accumulated right on the border of Donbass. But what do we do about them? And if we focus our effort on them, what do we do about the rest of the Ukrainian military? All 200 thousand– let’s say 100 thousand– there’s still 160 000 more out there in Ukraine, with reserves, that… could amount to another 300 000. You throw on the popular militias that they mobilize another 100, 200 thousand. There’s a lot of Ukrainians out there, And if you just focus on the Donbass battle, you’ve ceded the initiative to Ukrainians to respond in a way that benefits them.]”

So Russia had to shape the larger battlefield by threatening Kyiv, diverting Ukrainian resources there by securing a land bridge that… facilitated lines of communication between Crimea and the main part of Russia. That involved, you know, seizing Mariupol, you know, etcetera, by carrying out a very extensive strategic air campaign that neutralized the Ukrainian logistics of command and control. This was phase 1 of the operation, and Russia executed this very well. But a lot of people for– what I’m talking about right now is what I call big air war. Strategic thinking, with big arrow results.
A lot of people get caught down to what what I call the little arrow war. That means: when you get down in the weeds, war is ugly. And when you fight an army that is as capable as Ukrainians ugly things are going to happen to you. This isn’t all about Russia dominating the tactical situation 100 percent. It’s actually– most… combat is a 50-50 proposition going in. People give as well as they take, until some advantage is achieved on the battlefield, whether it be a maneuver advantage, a firepower advantage or something of that nature that tilts the favor– the balance in your favor– and then you gradually get control and move. But very rarely in modern war against a capable enemy, you overwhelm them immediately.

It’s a grinding battle in sweat. There’e doing to be videotapes of Russian columns that have been destroyed. There’s going to be videotapes of destroyed Russian equipment after Russian troops, dead Russian soldiers. And the media has played these over and over again, creating the illusion of a Russian defeat. But if you walk away from the videos and look at the map, you’ll see that it’s a strategic Russian victory that’s taking place. It’s unfolding slower than it would have if the Russians used their traditional doctrine, which emphasizes heavy firepower in massed attack. Though the Russians made a decision going in that they were not going to do this, because that would result in massive civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

[02:39:56]
So Russia has taken a lighter approach, one that actually puts them at a tactical disadvantage. One of the reasons why the Russians are suffering casualties is that they have forgone their advantage in the application of firepower. Because if you pound the Ukrainian soldiers to death, you’re also carrying Ukrainian civilians to death, and the Russians have said “We don’t want to do that yet.”

Are civilians dying? Absolutely. That’s a tragic outcome of war. But when you look again, military math. In the study of military history, when you study modern war, generally speaking the ratio of dead civilians to dead combatants comes down to roughly 1 to 1. It’ll, you know, go up to 1.3 to 1, 1.2 to 1 at its center. But roughly 1 to 1. That is, for every civilian killed, there’s a dead combatant, whether it be a Russian or Ukrainian.

Here we have a situation where for every civilian killed, you have around five or six dead combatants. What does that tell you? It tells you that the fighting that’s taking place is being done in a manner that seeks to avoid civilian– unnecessary civilian casualties. Now people say, well what about all the residential neighborhoods that are being bombed? Now we come to the problem. They’re being bombed, not because Russia says, Hey I want to bomb a residential area. They’re being bombed because the Ukrainians have decided to turn that residential area into a military target, either through making its line of defense there, or porting logistics– equipment, etcetera– that requires an attack.

So what casualties are taking place on the battlefield aren’t because the Russians have decided to undertake a course of action that kills civilians. It’s because the Ukrainians have decided to create a battlefield where the civilians live. And this is problematic, because the international humanitarian law, the laws of war, prohibit the use of human shields.

[02:41:55]
And this is exactly what the Ukrainians are doing. By allowing civilians to be integrated into the battlefield the Ukrainians are creating a de facto human shield. And, you know, so when all these allegations out here about war crimes this, war crimes that– at the end of the day, if you dig deep into every single one of these issues, you’ll find more often than not that the problem isn’t Russia, but the problem is Ukraine.

And again, this all plays into a perception that’s being portrayed by the media that is negative towards what Russia is doing. I’m not here to cheer on the Russians. They made a… geopolitical strategic decision that they have to explain to the world at some point. They’ve tried to justify it through Article 51, preemptive collective self-defense. I believe they have a case, but it’s a tough case to make. And it– someday they’re going to have to make that case.

But– and, you know, I’m not sitting here saying that Ukraine doesn’t have sovereign rights– they do. I’m just talking about the reality on the ground. Regardless of which side you’re on, the reality on the ground is that Russia is winning this conflict. Moreover, Russia will win this conflict.

Reiner Füllmich: [02:43:12]
You said in that aforementioned video that, right from the start, it was clear that Russia wasn’t… really trying to take over Ukraine. If they had wanted that, they would have had to go in– and again, this is military math– they would have had to go in with a force of soldiers three times as many as the Ukrainians, meaning 1.8 million soldiers, I believe, because the Ukrainians have some 600000 fighters.

And they didn’t. They came in… with 200000 soldiers, which means that they must have– because they’re not stupid. You said Putin, like him or not, but he’s a smart person; he’s good at what he’s doing. So he didn’t make a mistake. Rather, he has a different objective, meaning he wants to de-Nazify Ukraine, and he wants to protect those people who are Russia-friendly, which is a large part of the population. Is that a correct assessment?

Scott Ritter: [02:44:20]
Yes, I did– 26 percent, I believe, of the population of Ukraine is ethnic Russian, and then a larger percentage, you know, speak Russian as the first language. There’s another objective, too, which– military objective, which is the demilitarization.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
That is, the fact that the Ukrainian military had become a de facto proxy of NATO. Russia has decided that they will not allow this NATO-like structure to exist on its borders, and therefore they’re going to dismantle it. It could have been done voluntarily, or it can be done the way it’s being done right now, which is through the application of extreme violence.

And then both his military objectives are attached to a overall political objectives which is the… neutrality of Ukraine, that Ukraine will not be a NATO member ever in perpetuity. Not going to happen. That’s what precipitated this conflict to begin with. This is the expansion of NATO eastward, you know, despite assurances given back in 1990 to Mikhail Gorbachev that… they wouldn’t take advantage of the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Now the Warsaw Pact didn’t collapse when they did, but Germany unified, and that was the beginning of the end. And everybody knew that when they talked about “not one inch eastward” that it was not just Germany they were talking about. They were talking about what would happen eventually when the rest of the Warsaw Pact, you know, dissolved, you know.

But this… expansion was deemed to be a threat by Russia with… just cause. NATO keeps calling itself a defensive alliance, but the fact of the matter is: in recent history, NATO has been an offensive alliance. Not just an offensive alliance, but an offensive alliance that’s geared towards regime change. The attack on Serbia was designed to remove Slovodan Milosevich from power. The attack on Libya was designed to remove Moammar Khadaffi from power. The reinforcement of Iraq in 2004, a training mission, certified a military campaign that was designed to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And of course, the… efforts in Afghanistan, being nation-building in nature, were in support of regime change of the Taliban.

[02:46:44]
So it’s not just that NATO is an offensive organization. NATO is an offensive organization whose military objectives almost always include regime change. So now you have this expansive offensive- oriented military alliance moving toward your border and they deem you to be enemy number one. They don’t use the term “enemy”, but you’re protagonist number one. You are the reason NATO exists, in Russia. S as the Russians watch this happen, you know, they… basically say, “We’re not going to swallow this poison pill. We’re going to swat it away. We’re going to change the dynamic.”

And one of the things the Russians– one of their goals that go beyond Ukraine is to redefine a European security framework. They’ve outlined what that would look like in a treaty, a draft treaty they submitted NATO and the United States December of 2021. And this is also one of their objectives, that once the issue of Ukraine is resolved, Russia then will turn to the issue of NATO. If NATO thinks for a second that this crisis is over, they’re… wrong. And this crisis will be multifaceted in nature. It has numerous components, one of which is the economic component. I think today is the day that the gas is going to get shut off around, throughout Europe if they don’t pay… for it in rubles. If the… German chancellor hasn’t figured it out yet, he committed political and economic suicide by aligning himself with the United States on this… issue. And I think the rest of the so-called democratic leaders of Europe are going to figure this out, too.

[02:48:28]
The wonderful thing about democracy is that you’re ultimately held accountable to your constituents. And if you created this set of circumstances that have industry shutting down, heat being turned off, you know, your country ceasing to function normally– I just I… always recall the words of James Carville, who was bill Clinton’s campaign adviser back when Bill Clinton was running for office, running for president, early 1990s. Clinton was time out for policy and all this stuff. And Carville said, “No. It’s the economy, stupid.” That’s saying you need to worry about if you want to get in power. People vote their pocketbooks. And right now, the pocketbooks of Europe are about to become empty, and the Russians know this.

[02:49:15]
So the Russians are going to be pressing forward advantages. Not just a geopolitical advantage; they’re shapeing Ukraine in terms of military– demonstrated military supremacy. Because this isn’t just about beating Ukraine. Russia is defeating NATO. This is a huge embarrassment for NATO. NATO set Ukraine up to fail. This is on the heels of yet another NATO embarrassment in Afghanistan. So NATO is coming out of this not looking strong. Don’t– you know, Biden, Joe Biden can come and give all the speeches he wants to in Poland and in Brussels. But the reality is: NATO is impotent. They look impotent. They don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to react.

And now they’re talking about spending hundreds of billions of dollars in beefing up their military to respond to this new Russian reality, when their economy is about the tank. Where do they think they’re going to get that money? Do they think American troops are just going to magically appear on their soil? They don’t understand the modern reality of America. You want American troops, you pay for American troops. Because we’re going to (A) have to gin up new brigades. We only have 9 armored brigades in the United States military. We have just pivoted on the geopolitical level confronting China in the Pacific, which means many of these brigades are earmarked for potential conflict in South Korea. And who knows what we’re going to gin up regarding Taiwan.

So it’s not like we have a bunch of armored brigades sitting around that we can just willy-nilly throw into Europe. The last time we confronted Russia it wasn’t about armored brigades, it was about armored divisions. We had things called the Second Armored Division. We don’t have that any more. We had the Third Armored Division. We don’t have that any more. We don’t have– we have two armored divisions. That’s the First Armored Division and the First Cavalry Division. And then we have several armored brigades that are attached to mechanized infantry divisions. We don’t fight at the division level any more. We don’t fight at corps level. Guess who does. The Russians. They’re proving it right now.

[02:51:22]
So, you know, NATO is talking about the beefing up its security on the eastern flank. With what troops? Who’s going to do this, the 82nd airborne? They are road bumps. I have a lot of respect for soldiers who jump out of airplanes. It’s pretty cool. But when they land on the ground, there’s still just an infantryman with a rifle, maybe some mortars, maybe some Javelin missiles.

That’s it! and when the Russians come at them with the First Guards tank army, they die instantly. You think the Polish military is ready to stand up to the Russians? You think the Romanian military is ready to stand up to the Russians? You think any of the Baltic militaries are ready stand– You think the four battle groups that NATO has assembled in the Baltic xxxxx are ready to stand up to the Russians? They’re not, because they’re small, and they don’t have any depth. When they get into battle– war is a grinding, bloody process, as Ukraine has proven.

And when you take a reinforced battalion-size battle group and throw it into combat, and it grinds down, and you don’t have any reserves– it’s over. It’s over. They can fight bravely, but they will die bravely. They will be taken prisoner bravely. That’s the reality of NATO today. And now NATO is confronted with, you know,… they– they’ve… had 30-plus years of leisure activity, living off of the fat of American military strength. The German army used to be something to applaud. I’m not… a fan of German militarism, But during the Cold War the west German army was a very competent army, a very large army, with large armored formations. Today, the German army is a joke, a literal joke.

Reiner Füllmich:
I agree.

Scott Ritter:
They cannot maintain their forces. In order to put tht battle group into Lithuania– my God, German tanks in Lithuania. Who would’ve thought it could ever happen again? I mean, just the vision of that alone tellss you the Germans are incompetent.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter: [02:53:27]
But now you come the fact they want to put this battalion there– the two armored brigades that they had, they had to cannibalize, because they can’t get the brigade out of the caserne– because nothing works, they haven’t maintained it. And even if they got it out, they don’t know how to fight. So who are the Germans fooling? And now they want to spend a 100 billion dollars to magically recreate the Wehrmacht? I mean it’s crazy, crazy talk. And to what purpose? The Russians do not want to re-fight the battle of Berlin. So Berliners, you’re safe. The Russians aren’t coming for you, unless you push it.

Reiner Füllmich:
Unless we push it. Unless we push it, and some of this has been happening. Some of this push has–

Scott Ritter: [02:54:12]
All the Russians want is a return to the 1997 NATO structure.

Reiner Füllmich:
Mm-hm.

Scott Ritter:
They’re not saying that Poland and the Baltics andRomania and Bulgaria have to leave NATO. No, Russia doesn’t care. Stay. But what they don’t want is NATO infrastructure brought into these countries close to the Russian border. So they want to re– If NATO would just put on their thinking caps, they would recognize that this is sound. This is– because anything other than that recreates the Cold War, which– (A) Russia is ready right now to fight. And NATO is not.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
So why do you want to create the conditions for something you are not ready to do, and frankly speaking, will never be ready to do, because Russia is getting ready to shut down the European economy.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
And how are you going to pay for this militarization? And even if you do this, does Europe really want to totally surrender itself to the United States? Because that’s what’s about to happen.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter: [02:55:15]
If Europe buys into this new NATO etcetera, Europe is going to be, you know, subordinating itself politically, militarily and economically to the United States. Who’s making money out of this whole shift to gas? It’s not Russia, it’s the United States. If Europe stops buying Russian gas and starts buying American gas, even if the America could provide it, in the quantities that Russia– that… Europe needed, Europe’s going to be paying through the nose for this gas. It’s going to be more expensive.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
So if this is really the direction Europe wants to go, so be it. But if they were smart they’d consider not only the reality of what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine, but what’s happening, what’s getting ready to happen economically, and frankly politically, to the rest of Europe because of NATO’s irresponsible expansion eastward.

Alex Thomson: [02:56:06]

Scott Ritter

May I ask, Scott, at this moment about the thorny issue of Russian troop morale. This seems to be one of the most contested elements of the war in propaganda right now. We see a large amount of Ukrainian signals intelligence, rebroadcast by western media, claiming that there are mass defections and mutinies among the naval infantry and the ground troops. Perhaps an over-egged claim that many of the troops are poorly trained and equipped, Russian Muslims from the Caucasus and Central Asia or the Siberian Muslim belt. And that these these men have no affinity with what is going on. A lot of desperate “call Mama” type signals intelligence, suggesting that the Russians aren’t even getting a chance to engage Ukrainian eyeballs because– in some calls that have been disseminated, the claim is “Before we even see them they hit us with their grass.”

Now how much of this can you take at face value, particularly given that the boss of my old institution in the British signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, said just a couple of days ago in Australia– and very interesting that a single-source intelligence boss would even dare to say this; he wouldn’t have done it in my time– but he is now saying that the claim is the Russians are not able to win this war, and Putin’s bosses, military bosses, are afraid to tell him the truth. This claim has also been echoed, by the way, by the incoming chief of the British General Staff, Admiral Tony Radakin. How much credence do you set in this? Why would the claim be made at all? And how much of a picture can you get from signals intelligence on its own, as to Russian morale?

Scott Ritter: [02:57:50]
Let’s start with the… larger picture. Why would they be doing this? Especially why would the head of GCHQ be speaking about intelligence matters of some of the most sensitive sources of intelligence imaginable. I mean, the… you know, you and I both have, I assume, have worked in the sigint field, and we understand that when you get, when you finally are able to get into a target, through sigint, the last thing you want to do is give any hint that this has occurred. Because in an instant, all that goes away. In sight of that’s satellite-driven, you’ve lost billions of dollars. If it’s tactical-driven, you’ve lost hundreds if not thousands of hours of trying to position yourself to exploit the… target. And you may– there’s no guarantee you’re going to get it back.

So right off the bat, why is he doing this? And the answer is, I believe, not to reinforce the narrative coming from the mainstream media, about, you know, the demise of the Russians and stuff. It’s to– it’s part of a larger, broader information war that’s taking place in the west, targeting the Russian population. The… gold objective– if you combine information war, you create the… concept of inevitable Russian military defeat, combined with the economic sanctions that are damaging, to create the… conclusion that the problem isn’t NATO, the problem is Putin.

[02:59:32]
The goal of the United States was put out by Biden. He blurted it out. Regime change.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
That’s always been the goal. We’ve never… shied from it. Michael McFaul [Rus. Amb. 2012-2014] admits it. If you take a look at the Russian reset in 2009 it was about regime change, to replace Vladimir Putin with Dmitry Medvedev. 100 percent regime change. And when it was failing, Biden, then vice president, flew to Moscow on March 3rd, I believe, of 2011 meeting with political opposition leaders that are paid for by the United States and Great Britain. And he said, “If I was Vladimir Putin, I wouldn’t run for office again. Because it’s not going to work out for you.” What are you doing? That’s regime change. It’s not violent regime change, but it’s still regime change. Hillary Clinton spoke out against Putin’s party during the parliamentary elections in December of 2011, causing Vladimir Putin to chastise her and say “You’re interfering with our… affairs, trying to shape a presidential election.”

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
So the goal is regime change, and this is information war. It’s trying to create an image of Russian incompetence, military incompetence, military impotence, and… defacto, they’re never going to win. So that the Russian people start to question their leadership. I don’t think it’s working, because Putin’s popularity rating just keeps going up.

But now we come to: is this true? Because it’s one thing about the objective, and now we come down to the nuts and bolts of the intelligence: is what they’re saying true? I don’t know– did you work– Alex, you don’t have to answer too much, but did you work the Soviet target or the Russian target?

Alex Thomson:
Yes it was on target.

Scott Ritter:
Did you have respect for that target?

Alex Thomson:
Absolutely.

Scott Ritter:
Did you view them as themost incompetent people on the face of the earth?

Alex Thomson:
That’s the last term I would use for them.

Scott Ritter: [03:01:24]
Correct. So now I’m going to basically say that to buy into what people are talking about implies that the Russians are the most incompetent people on the face of the earth, when it comes to communications security. Let’s start off with a statement of fact. Every Russian soldier, before they went into Ukraine, stood inspection. And the counter-intelligence people went through every piece of their kit, insuring that there were no personal electronic devices. No Russian soldier has a cell phone in Ukraine, so–

Alex Thomson:
Let me interrupt you just there, Scott. The… shock and awe propaganda of this week from the– nothing from the official Ukrainian MOD [Ministry of Defense], but from these embedded far-right elements, is one of, supposedly a– the corpse of a Russian soldier from which a mobile phone has been extracted. And the troops who dispatched him call Mama and gloat over how he’s now in bits spread over the field. So how does that square with fairly elementary concepts such as you have described which even the west in its better days would have done before sending its troops into enemy territory?

Scott Ritter:
Well, what it… squares is, we’re looking at a very sophisticated information warfare propaganda xxx. First of all, let’s talk about the cell phones. Here in the united States, you might be able to find one or two Luddites who haven’t put in some sort of security code or facial recognition feature or whatever. So the idea that the a Russian soldier (A) has his phone on him. And (B) it’s going to ring and it’s going to say “Mama”. And (C) third parties is going to be able to pick it up and access it. Because my phone, when it rings and says “Moma”, and I hit– you know, I want to answer, it says “Please enter your security code” before the phone– That didn’t happen. It said “Mama”, and he won’t answer. So it tells you it’s a ploy. This is a pure propagandistic ploy.

What… even the Ukrainians have had to admit as… it became clear that their story about cell phones– because the Russian mamss are going, “Wait a minute. A boy has got his phone? How come he’s not calling me?” Because you’ve got a million or 200,000 Russian mamas calling the Ministry of Defense saying, “Why aren’t they calling?” And the Ministry says, “Because they don’t have their cell phones.”

Well, what about that? It’s a lie. Nobody has their cell phones. And the Ukrainians went, “Yeah, it’s not working, so here’s the new story: the Russians are stealing Ukrainian cellphones from the innocent population and then the Russian soldiers are using those cell phones to call home to Mama.

Now again: it’s the same problem. Let’s just say that I’m private Ivan Schmuckatelli, and I decided I want to call home to Mama. So I find a Ukrainian civilian, and I butt-stroke him in the face, and I grab his cell phone. Even if I’m clever enough to take his phone to get his biometrics, or hold it up to his face, or put a pistol to his head and get the security code from– Do I remember that? Because the face only works one time.

Alex Thomson:
Not only that everyone in Eastern Europe uses security codes and mostly Android-based phones as well, but more particularly that for lack of paid call time, mostly they will use the Viber app, the eastern equivalent, the eastern European market equivalent of What’s App. And again there, you’re going to need cell data. And again, the SBU, the Ukrainian intelligence service will presumably– I haven’t checked this for myself for my faults– but will presumably have put a blanket ban on calling numbers beginning with country code of plus 7. So there’s another obstacle to these… claims.

Scott Ritter: [03:05:07]
This is just pure fiction. So now we… come down to… the phone calls. So we’ve established that the likelihood of a Russian picking up the phone and calling home to Mama is slim to none. But what about these recorded calls? They’re all fake. They’re… literally all faked. They… are the SBU. and I’ll tell you, it’s not the SBu alone, but even before this war started, the CIA and MI6 was heavily integrated with the… Ukrainian intelligence service.

Alex Thomson:
Extremely heavily, going back 15 years before.

Scott Ritter:
Right, and one of the aspects that’s going on right now is information warfare. The CIA has an entire– well hell: MI6 has a IO imagine what IO stands for: Information Operations. Their whole job is black propaganda. The… CIA, under the Special Activities Group, whatever they call them nowadays in the Directorate of Operations, has a political action element, a component of which is information warfare, information operations. They have been working with the Ukrainians from day one to shape this image. And what we’re looking at is a very sophisticated information operation, where it– with so-called intercepted conversations. They’re not intercepted conversations of secure Russian comms because Russian comms– I… just, I have to laugh, because the implication is that the Russians can’t communicate.

Reiner Füllmich:
Mm-hm.

Scott Ritter:
That’s the implication here, that some of these calls are from, you know, subordinate officers calling their superior officers with the most whiny of messages — “We’re hungry, we don’t have any fuel, we’re scared, what are we doing here?” So, absurd in the extreme. Again, xxxxx the Russian target. I have. I can tell you right now that the idea a Russian battalion tactical group getting ready to cross into Ukraine, thinking it’s an exercise–

Reiner Füllmich:
No way.

Scott Ritter:
… is childlike.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
They also– thinking that… they don’t know where they’re going is childlike. These troops have been well briefed on several things. One: what their immediate tactical objectives are; how that immediate tactical objective feeds into an overall operational concept; and two: what the rules of engagement are. And this is a critical factor, because– there was a interview with a Russian general a couple days into the war– because people like myself are going, “What are the Russians doing, man? Their doctrine calls for overwhelming artillery fire, and then massed attacks. And what I’m looking at is no artillery fire and these… light probes. What’s going on?”

And what was going on, according to this general, was what they call the Syrian approach. Now again, the western media… will say, “Ah-ha! That proves that the Russians are going to blow Aleppo up level it, bring in chemical weapons and kill civilians, because that’s what we’ve been told the Russians do in Syria. But no. What the Russians do in Syria is surround a civilian population and then give them the opportunity to evacuate with… buses. They evacuated all the jihadists out of the areas around the Damascus in southern Syria and they took them up to [~Iglut], where they’re concentrated now.

[03:08:35]
So the Russia approach was designed to deliberately avoid unnecessary civilian casualties, which is a stated objective of the Ministry of Defense. They have ordered their troops not to kill– you know, not to target civilians, not to damage civilian infrastructure needlessly. I mean you never target a civilian, but also to be careful about the application of force so you don’t damage the civilian infrastructure. When civilian infrastructures is damaged, it’s because Ukrainians made the decision to turn that into a military target.

[03:09:05]
But my point here is that these troops are extremely well briefed, extremely well briefed. And we know it. So the idea of this poor, besodden Ivan Schmuckatelli not knowing anything and just hopping in his vehicle and driving along, “Oh my God, I’ve hit a Ukrainian. Hell, crap, they’re firing at me. Damn, everybody’s dying, and oh, oh, oh, woe is me– Call Mama.”

No, that… just isn’t happening at all. There, you know, there– we, and we know this, because we’ve seen the Russian– they captured the Russian tanks. And if you look at the Russian tanks, there are secure comms in the Russian tanks. So we know they have secure comms. So if the Russian tanks have secure comms, they ain’t using a ceBecause (A) they don’t have a cell phone; and (B) it’s the dumbest thing to do. Because the second you use a cell phone, you’ve given away your location to a modern opponent who is out there with electronic warfare capability hacking cell calls, geolocating, calling in fire.

That’s how we’re killing a lot of these idiots that– that’s how the Russians are killing a lot of these idiots that are torturing Russian soldiers etcetera, because they… use a cell phone, and then they post it on social media. And that creates a signal that then gets intercepted, identifies who did it, and then Russian special forces, who are very good, by the way, come in, grab them, and it, it’s… not going to be a good day for these people.

[03:10:32]
But my… point is, to get back to the basics here, the… whole cell phone thing, the whole intercepted phone call thing, just doesn’t stand the smell test. It… you would have to assume that the Russians are incompetent, that the Russians didn’t spend billions of dollars upgrading their comms. You know, in 2008 Russia went to war against Georgia. Short little five-day war, that they were horrible in. They were awful, and they knew it. The Russian generals afterwards said, “Man, we’re lucky.” Because the Georgians knew how to fight. They Georgians were trained by marines. And the Georgian were doing some wonderful stuff tactically, really bad stuff operationally, and a bad strategic idea to go in.

But tactically, they were doing well. But they… lacked the mass, so the Russians were able to come in with artillery and armor, and grind them down and… move on. But the Russians were saying, “We’re not that good. We’re really actually pretty bad. We’re lucky that the Georgians didn’t have more capability. Because it could have been a different outcome on the battlefield.”

[03:11:38]
So they started a dramatic modernization program and we saw some of this in 2014, with the little green men and stuff. But even then the Russians weren’t all there. Around 2016, they started to reorganize the military, going away from a pure brigade model. Now bringing back, for instance, the First Guards tank army, the twentieth binarms army, large, offensive–

Alex Thomson:
This is the key, though, isn’t it, Scott. It’s combined arms, really, because, you know, from the end– beginning of the Cold War onwards, they had inherited the operational level of warfare, which had largely won them the Eastern Front, and then combined arms, which is largely regarded as a NATO, largely UK-Canadian-US speciality until recently.

But I think you, you’re making a good case here that from about the middle of last decade, Russia has been the master of combined arms ops.

Scott Ritter:
Not… just Russia is the master of combined arms arms– look…, I used to be the master of combined arms operation. When I was in the Marine Corps, you know, I… came up as a junior officer when the Marine Corps was embracing maneuver warfare in a big way from a conceptual standpoint the philosophy of it green. General Al Gray was the Commandant, and he brought it down. And I spent two and a half years in 29 Palms, California mastering maneuver warfare, combined arms operations at an artillery battalion. And we were… self-propelled, and we spent 250 days a year in the field firing live ammunition all the time. And we were masters of our profession.

Well, guess what. We don’t do that any more. The last 20, years we’ve been running around in Afghanistan and Iraq doing low-intensity conflict, counter– counterinsurgency operations. We were very good at kicking down the doors of civilian houses, shooting civilians. We were very good at dropping drone strikes on wedding parties. We’re not very good at combined arms operations, because we don’t do it any more. Now we’re trying to rapidly do it, but we don’t have the military to do it any more. The reason why I brought up 250 days a year in the field and the amount of ammunition we shot is: that’s expensive. To… become really good at this is an expensive proposition, and it requires constant training. You don’t simply go through a quick course and then go back to the garrison and then suddenly be thrown 6 to 8 months later into the field and be expected to– you lived it, you breathed it, you ate it, you slept it. It was your life because that’s the reality. It’s so complex. It is so complex, this is kind of combined arms maneuver warfare. You have to literally make it part of yout DNA.

And we didn’t just forget how to do it; we scooped out that DNA and threw it away. We… embraced, you know, low-intensity conflict. And now we’re looking at the Russians applying combined-arms war in Ukraine. And there’s a growing recognition about– from any military professional that we can’t do that. We don’t know how to do that.

Alex Thomson:
Do you think, Scott, that this was the substance of what Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Ministry of Defense, said to his US counterpart when, unexpectedly, the US Secretary of State for Defence accompanied Biden on the… last bilateral with Putin? Do you think the threat was: we will box you in?

Scott Ritter:
Well. the Russians I don’t think are in the business of making threats. They can imply threats, but the Russians are very sophisticated. I give them a lot of credit. As much as we respect their military, I respect their diplomacy even more. I know Sergei Lavrov. I’ve worked with him. He was at the UN. A very, very clever intelligent diplomat, backed up with a diplomatic corps that is second to none.

[03:15:20]
No, the Russians don’t do any– again, that’s just one of the things that– when you hear all these people, you know, “Well the Russians are sending a signal, and they’re blunt, and they lie, and they–” No, they don’t. The Russians are sophisticated. The Russians are polite. The Russians give you every opportunity to take the off ramp before it becomes too late. And I think Shoigu was making– I think that the point that he was making is that… there is a military technical component to our solution that we don’t want to have to apply. That we prefer to do this diplomatically,

“But I’m here to remind you that if you ignore us, that we’ve put it, we put these this… new security framework out there to be worked out– if you ignore us, I exist. And I just, I’m here to remind you that I exist. I’m not making a threat. I’m simply saying: I exist, and don’t forget that.”

And I think we forgot it. We didn’t… take the Russians seriously.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yes.

Scott Ritter:
I mean this– we, we’ve, we denigrated them, we demeaned them, we belittled them. And the Russians right now are basically saying, “We are here”, as Putin said in 2018.

Alex Thomson:
Do you think the U.S. and the British took the Germans seriously when the Germans seem to have been hinting last year that they were in no state, nor was any other continental European armed service, to do what might have been expected of it if there was a… ramping up in Ukraine. Or do you think that the British and Americans continued to fancy that continental Europe would be able to hold out for them in the… late Cold War model of “Hold the, fill the gap for a couple of weeks while we arrive”?

Scott Ritter:[03;17:06]
I can’t speak to the British any more. Except to say that if I– I think the Croatian prime minister got it right when the British minister of defense showed up and… he said, “We’re not meeting you. A) You’re not a member of the European Union any more, so why would I meet with you? B) You’re Brit.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
You got nothing. You got nothing. Your military is a joke. Get out of here.” If Croatia says the British military is a joke, then the British military is a joke. The player here is the United States. And the United States has become a prisoner of its own rhetoric.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
You know, we… we’re very good at… throwing words out. We’re good, very good at making promises. As if we can, by creating the perception of grandeur, grandeur actually exists. We saw that in Afghanistan when Joe Biden in July called up Ashraf Ghani, the president, Af Ghani is crying, “There’s a threat.” He said, “15 to 20 thousand, Talibani, Pakistani jihadists are coming across the border. And I got nothing to stop them with, except your air power. You’re slowing down your air strikes. We need you to ramp that up, or else it’s all over. It’s done.”

And Biden said, “Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. Shut up. I need you to go and tell everybody everything’s going to be okay. We have to create the perception that everything’s going to be OK,” and this is a direct quote from Biden, “even if it’s not true.”

So Biden instructed the Afghan president, at a moment in time when his country is literally falling to the enemy, to lie, to create the perception that everything’s OK. Now we come to Germany, NATO and Europe. The Germans aren’t stupid. The Germans know their economy better than anybody, and the Germans did the math, and said, “Iif we lose Russian gas, we’re in trouble. Fact is, all of Europe looked at– because it’s… a cascading effect, given the way that it’s integrated. You can’t just wall off the German economy from Europe. If the German economy falls, the French economy falls. If the French economy falls, the Spanish economy falls. It’s a domino effect; it happens instantaneously. So all of Europe went, “We got a… Russian energy problem here. And the United States said, don’t worry about it; we got you covered. We have a plan B.”

We didn’t have a plan B. And Germany has just found that reality out.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah yeah.

Alex Thomson:
We were told that the plan B was U.S. liquefied natural gas being imported in bulk, which I think even Britain is not really completely set up to do. There is a port in west Wales to import it. I think Germany has one, too. But you can’t switch overnight, even if you can afford American energy.

Scott Ritter: [03:20:02]
Or even if there’s enough American energy, which there isn’t. You want to know one of the reasons why there’s enough, not enough American energy? Because China bought it all. So the Americans are selling it to the Chinese, because we’re going to get greater profit, at a time when Europe says, “We desperately need it.”

So how good of a friend is the United States? But even if all the LNG was sent to Europe, Europe can’t absorb it. And even if they could absorb it, it’s still not enough. This is why the United States went to Qatar and tried to get Qatarr to basically redirect its liquid natural– we even want to Algeria and begged the Algerians to send gas to Europe. Algeria told us to take a hike. The Qataris are looking at it. But the fact is: all the assurances the United States gave amount to a hill of beans. They’re nothing. And now Europe’s left holding an empty bag, with Russia getting ready to play hardball.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yep.

Scott Ritter:
And if anybody thinks that Russia is joking around… I hope people come from, come out of this understanding that Vladimir Putin does not bluff. At all.

Alex Thomson:
The strongest testimony to what you’re saying there, Scott, is that all the intelligencia, the pro- western or western-leaning but moderately so, people in all of the countries neighboring Russia are saying, “Well we may have to bolt. We may have to flee the region completely, because– OK, we… have the, our question marks over their reasoning when they say, “I don’t want to live under Putin-dominated Europe”. You can accept or reject that reasoning. But the fact that they are all saying that, implies that they who know the Russians better than anyone, these bordering countries know that is not going to go away any time soon. The Russians are not offering a feint. They’re actually going to follow through on what they’re threatening.

Scott Ritter: [03:21:46]
Yeah, and the Russian– I… don’t believe that Russia plans any military operations beyond Ukraine. I don’t think they’re– I mean, the Russians aren’t suicidal. They’re not going to … test Article 5 of the… NATO charter, although I believe if they did test it, Article 5 would fail. That’s a heck of a gamble.

Reiner Füllmich:
I do, too.

Scott Ritter:
Just… in case people were serious about it, that could lead to a nuclear conflict. Russia’s not going that route. Russia is established in its military credentials in Ukraine. And believe me, once all the propaganda goes away and true military professionals sit down and study what has happened here, the west is going to wake up and realize that Russia is fighting a war that they’re not prepared to fight.

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
First of all, which western democracy right now is willing to take 30 to 50 thousand dead. None. None. None of them are. So that’s… what we’re talking about when you fight the Russians. We’re… talking about– because Russia is not going to come in soft. Russia doesn’t give a damn about the poor civilians, or civilian infrastructure.

If Russia comes into Poland, they’re going to only barrages, they’re gonna kill everything, with heavy masses of armor. They’re going to push through and grind everything, while air– where’s their Russian Air Force? It’s coming in dribs and drabs. Why? They’re holding it in reserve. Well they’ve… displayed the kinzhal, which– I know I’m saying that wrong, because my Russian language abilities were developed in college while I drank beer and played football. I do know means dagger.

[It’s true of them], not because they needed to fire them because of the Ukrainian target, but to remind NATO that, “Hey, if you guys really want to play this game, we got a whole bunch of these. And you can’t stop them. And whatever we aim them at, they’re going to hit. And that includes, for instance, that wonderful shiny building you have in Brussels, you call NATO headquarters. It will be gone. Oh, and you’ve got a Ministry of Defense? Bye-bye. England, you think your… headquarters are going to be untouched? We’re going to flatten them. Paris — it’s all going to go bye-bye, guys. Not with nuclear, but with precision strike capabilities. That’s the cost of going to war with Russia. So don’t do it.

But Russia doesn’t need to go to war with Europe,because Europe’s going to surrender because of the economy. Thats the Russian plan. And, you know, what did you expect? Imagine again, Vladimir Putin. But I’m not somebody who believes Vladimir Putin is a dictator. I don’t think– I think Vladimir Putin is a long-serving, powerful executive, at the head of a very large Russian civil service that’s very competent. But that the civil service actually defines Russia’s national security objectives etc. Putin is simply the implementer of the policy that comes up from below. But Vladimir Putin sits down with Joe Biden– who looks him in the eye, because Joe Biden is that kind of guy– and Biden tells Putin right to [his] face, “Don’t do it, or I’m going to hit you with the massive sanctions.”

And because Biden is doing this politically, Biden proceeds then to tell all of America, “We’re going to shut down the SWIFT. We’re going to seize their assets.” And Putin is going, “Anything else you’re going to do? What else are you going to do? Energy independence? OK. Thank you, thank you. And you’ve given me how much time, months, to prepare a response?”

Russia wouldn’t have gone in to Ukraine militarily unless they had a plan on how to deal with the sanctions that the United States and the west broadcast. Nothing that happened in the sanctions took Russia by surprise. Everything Russia knew was going to happen, it had a plan for it.

Reiner Füllmich:
You actually said, you actually said, Scott, that, not in these words, but Putin was probably jumping up and down with joy about the sanctions, because this gives them the opportunity to finally withdraw or disconnect from– the dollar, in particular, and other aspects of western society, as well.

Scott Ritter: [03:25:52]
Yeah. When Putin came into power, I don’t– he wasn’t anti-west. He was actually pro-west.

Reiner Füllmich:
That’s what I was going to ask you about, yeah.

Scott Ritter:
Yeah. He was… just against the debasement of Russia that had taken… place under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin. But Putin wasn’t, you know, I’m going to walk away from the west. It was: I want to learn to work with the west as an equal, not as a… subordinate. That I’m going to reassert Russia’s sovereignty and sovereign rights. But Putin had an uphill struggle. Two things. Three things, actually.

One was the heavy presence of what I call carpetbagger western economists operating inside Russia, who had turned Russia into a giant … money tree for the west, but not for the Russians.

Two was this extraordinarily corrupt oligarch class that had basically robbed Russia blind by playing games with shares etc. to acquire former state enterprises and turn them into personal monopolies that printed money and turned them into billionaires overnight.

And then three was a Russian population, especially in the middle class, or the… emerging middle class, and the intelligentsia who– because of perestroika, actually, looked to the west as being their economic salvation. Even though perestroika was, you know, incompetently implemented, and maybe the basic premise of it was not sound, but the idea was that, you know, centralized economic planning is not the solution, that we need to go more, to a more capitalistic model, etc.

[03:27:38]
And this… influential segment of Russian population bought into it. So even while Russia’s lying prostrate for the west, the the billionaires are robbing it, you had [the] Russian business class working with the west, bringing in western businesses, getting investment, building businesses, building an economic lifestyle. And this business class has some political clout. Some people say that they… constitute 20 percent of the… electorate.

So now you have Putin saying, “OK, how do I navigate these waters?” The first thing he did is he… took control of the oligarchs. He brought them in and said “You guys have got a lot of money, and I need that money. So I’m going to let you have that money, but you got to learn to invest… it within the framework of law. And 2: if you get involved in local politics, I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you economically, I’ll arrest you, and if you want to play real ball, I’ll kill you. That’s just– because this is serious. xxxxx are a threat to Russia. They’re… a threat to Russian sovereignty etc. But they’re too powerful. They have too much money, too much accumulated wealth.

Alex Thomson:
A very large number of these oligarchs, including some very powerful ones, such as Boris Berezovsky, immediately fled to London as soon as Putin took office, even though his full intent was not clear. And within five or six years in the tenure of Chris Steele and others whom I met personally, the Berezovsky clan was effectively steering the MI6 Russia desk. I think that I’m not blowing the gap on anything here. And this is well known now for a number of investigations that have come out into the open. It was effectively a Berezovsky analysis of Russia, by the time of the Litvinenko case.

So that… was clearly playing in the background. And in the end, Putin knew that his worst enemies were almost safe abroad. And some of them fled back to Russia in panic, defected back to Russia, because they were afraid of what would happen to them in the west if they played that game any longer.

Scott Ritter: [03:29:33]
No, you’re actually right. Look, we could spend a lot of time on Christopher Steele and how Orbis came into being and what Orbis really is. You know, I– anyways, that’s a different rabbit hole. But I… agree with you 100 percent. But, you know, so he… control– brought the oligarchs much control as he could. He… took care of the west by nationaliz– or threatening the nationalization of industries, compelling Chevron and British Petroleum, others, to more realistically redefine their relationship with Russia, because they were just simply robbing the Russians blind. Because Yeltsin had no choice. Putin brought this under control, and then he…. sought to further the economic integration, to encourage western businesses to come in, etc.

But how did the west respond to this? Both Britain and the United States felt threatened by Putin. So they… used people like Michael McFall and others to promote the democratization of Russian society. Now in theory, that’s not a bad thing, you know. Everybody believes in democracy. But this wasn’t democracy. This was, again, to assert western control over Russian politics. This is about buying political opposition groups, buying political opposition figures. And so this western connectivity became a threat to Putin.

But Putin was never able to divorce himself from the west, because a divorce would be radical in nature. In a minute, he would have 20 percent of this electorate who’s pretty much apolitical, they’re going to vote for you as long as they have economic benefit.

Alex Thomson:
And besides, there was an octopus reaching both ways. That was the octopus reaching from London and the CIA into Russia, because the oligarchs, the previous regime knew very well where Russia’s weak points were and knew how to sell the west’s story about that Putin administration. But there was also an octopus reaching from London, New York and Switzerland into Moscow, in the form of the auditors, who were auditing everything, right through to the military-industrial complex in Russia, and acting as, effectively, the front line of western intelligence.
Scott Ritter: [03:31:44]
Absolutely.

Alex Thomson:
And that really took until the mid-2010s to be addressed. So it took a decade or more for Putin to clear the decks, to be able to deal with the economic traitors in his midst.

Scott Ritter:
One of the greatest the intelligence victories the west had among many during this time– because Russia was literally an open book to be plucked– was the cooperative threat reduction program of the Nunn-Lugar Act. They created an entire defense agency whose sole job was to go in and take control of the greatest national secrets of the Soviet Union, their nuclear infrastructure, biological and chemical weapons. All that involved. But the U.S. insinuated itself in there, and then got upset with Putin when he said, “We don’t need your money more, so take a hike.”

There was a pure intelligence operation. I mean, it really that’s… what it was. It was a threat to Russia. But the bottom line is Putin was held hostage to this. You could dramatically break from it, because you would get… you could lose an election. That’s, again, proof positive Putin is not a dictator. He is vulnerable during elections. He could lose an election. So what did the west do?

The west just gave him the greatest gift. First of all, by charging the oligarchs and seizing their assets, they neutered the oligarchs. Now the oligarchs are in Russia with no money, no power, no nothing. Putin’s going, “Leave. I don’t want you any more. You’re traitors. Go. Go back to your mansions, get out of Russia. I– you’re no longer a factor. And Putin’s nearly dancing a jig because of this, because now the oligarch class has been eliminated. It’s no longer–

Alex Thomson:
The ones that were in London all this while, who thought that they were buying their freedom by donating to both of them, the… usual ruling, the ruling xxxxxx in Brit, have suddenly found that they are also out on their ear. They are being held by the short ones, aren’t they, until you will completely surrender your assets to us and become anti-Putin shill.

Scott Ritter: [03:33:52]
And they don’t even have a yacht to retreat on any more. But then the… other gift they gave him was this 20 percent of the… electorate that’s entwined with the west. There’s a divorce now. It’s an absolute divorce; it’s a violent divorce. But Putin didn’t bring it on. The west did it. And so you’re not getting the kind of political backlash that would have occurred had Putin been the initiator of this divorce. And so instead, what now is you have a Russian population feeling betrayed by the west and embracing the pivot that’s taking place right now. How do we know this?

One: I mean, Putin shut the markets down; but then he re-opened them. And the markets are functioning normally. In fact, they’re going up; they they haven’t collapsed the way Biden bragged that they would.

Two: Putin has been masterful. I don’t know what the short– I don’t know what the long-term opportunities are for the ruble, but in the short term, what a dramatic thing he’s done, linking it to the gold standard and then demanding payments in rubles, and suddenly the ruble is a currency of trade.

And so everything the west thought was going to happen in Russia isn’t happening in Russia. The Russian people didn’t rise up, the ruble isn’t collapsed, the market hasn’t collapsed. In fact, the more Russia pivots, the more investors from other
non-European entities start to move into the vacuum created by the departure of the west, the stronger Russia’s going to get. So you know, this… economic war that Europe bought into, sold by the United States, turned out to be one of the greatest geopolitical disasters for Europe imaginable.

Viviane Fischer: [02:35:37]
Can I ask you something? Could it be that we’re looking at, like some giant Truman Show and that, you know. like also the Russians– I mean. it’s, it sounds very credible, would you say here now. But could it be that this whole, you know– what, credible, I mean, knowledgeable– but can it be that you have, that they’re actually all in beds with one another.

??:
I don’t.

Scott Ritter:
No I…– You know, because to do that, you’d have to– look, I can believe that the west could play those kind of games. I have no… confidence in the… integrity of the west any more. Or the… intestinal fortitude of western politicians. I– to watch the German chancellor get demeaned by… Joe Biden, you know, and I’m an American– it made me embarrassed. It embarrassed me. But the Russians– and I know Russians; I’ve known them for all my life. They don’t play these games. The Russians are sincere. They’re not perfect: they make mistakes, they can lie, they cheat, they can steal. I’m not pretending they can’t. But the Russians wouldn’t– there… is no modern Potemkin Village taking place here. With Russia, what you see is what you get. And that’s a mistake that many in the west make, because they’re looking at something and they’re thinking, “Well, what are the Russians trying to tell us here?”

Alex Thomson: [03:37:00]
Yeah. It’s not even just the pseudo-military officer class now. It’s also the politicians, the
pseudo-leader class in the west, especially in Britain, who have adopted this Russian word moskidovka, meaning deception operations. and whereas 20 years ago, this was a word that occasionally a colonel would used to say, “Well, be careful when the Russians are in the field. They might be doing a feint”, now it’s being– it’s on the lips of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, you know. Everything the Russians say is muskidovka. This word has been denuded of all meaning now.

Scott Ritter: [03:37:30]
Yeah. The reason why they’re doing it is that the west has lost all intellectual credibility, when it comes to evaluating Russia. Back in the Cold War, you know, we… were ideologically opposed to the Soviet Union. And we had a class of officers called the Foreign Area Officer. And we had foreign service officers who were specialists. I was proud to be a Foreign Area Officer, Soviet specially, junior. But I… worked with some very senior guys, who, generals and colonels, who had been Foreign Area Officerrs for some time, had extensive experience. And I worked with–

Alex Thomson:
Yeah. And I have to say that like their diplomatic equivalents, the U.S. officers who were responsible for such foreign observation and liaison actually excelled the European offices in their language skills, something that’s often underlooked. The best American diplomats and military officers concerned with the Russian- or Arab-speaking world actually excelled the Europeans.

Scott Ritter: [03:38:30]
I was a sad exception. I’m the… guy that brought the… average down.

Reiner Füllmich:
That’s because you were playing football and drinking beers, Scott.

Scott Ritter:
Drinking beer, that’s right. I mean, I told them when they recruited me. I said, “Come on, man. I played football; I didn’t study Russian.” But I did it to impress the girls, and it didn’t work. Seriously… speaking, the… fact of the matter is, what I’m trying to get at is, at that time, the Soviet Union was a closed society. I mean, there were certain opportunities to get in there, but even when you went in there, you were… you didn’t have freedom of movement. And so you were forced, in order to understand your enemy– because you remember Sun Tzu, The Art of War, know your enemy as you know yourself.

In order to do that, you had to step back, and evaluate what you had, which was Russian literature. Russian literature gives you an insight to the Russian soul. You had a history of Russia. And history repeats itself. Never forget that. So if you studied, for instance, the campaigns of Sukharov, and you studied the campaigns of the… Russian heros during World War One, and you were able to get a glimpse into Tukhachevsky, you have a good understanding of the foundation of modern Soviet military thinking. You studied their… history, their culture, everything about them, so that you could then think like a Russian, think like a Soviet. And they make good, sound assessments. And we didn’t get everything right, but we tried– and we didn’t like them. But we respected them. and we understood them, because we had a deep-seated knowledge of them.

Then the Soviet Union collapsed. And over night, that approach went away, because suddenly the doors opened. We had free access to everything. Now one would think, if that’s the case, they would immediately run to the archives and start reading primary research material. You would immediately sit down with the. former Soviets, treat them with respect, and you talk to them, understand them, trying to find out– That’s not what we did. Instead of a Russian expert, we had economic carpetbaggers. We went, not looking how to understand the Russians, but to exploit the Russians. And we did that with Boris Yeltsin. We… created this notion of democracy when we knew there was nothing democratic going on in Russia during this time. How could it, when you have tanks firing in October, 1993 at the Russian Parliament. I mean, people tend to have forgotten that. How could you speak of Russian democracy when United States bought 1996 election, for Boris Yeltsin, who would not have won it unless we came in with millions of dollars, campaign managers, and ran an American-style corrupt campaign, so that he ended up winning.

[03:41:19]
So… we spent a decade doing this. And… in the process, all Foreign Area officers, the old ones, retired, were pushed aside. The CIA– I’m not bragging, but when I left the, when, in 1991 when I… left the… Mmarines, the CIA tried to recruit me to come in the work the… Soviet analysis [desk], because while I had been in Russia implementing the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty, I got two classified commendations from the CIA for my work, was considered to be “hot stuff”. And I… turned it down. I ended up going to work for the United Nations. But it, later on, in 1992, the CI–you know, someone came back and said, could you come back. I did an interview with what had become OREO, the Office of Russian and European, Eurasian… And the head of OREO, who was a nobody when Solo was around– Solo was the elite analytical arm of the CIA, the best of the best.

Now I come in to their replacement. He says, “No, we don’t need people of your thinking.” In one year, my thinking, my approach, which got me two classified commendations from the director of the CIA, was now seen to be “inconvenient”.

Alex Thomson:
Yeah. OREO were my CIA opposite numbers, and I would go over, most years, once a year to Langley, or they’d come over to London when we met. Most of the the chit-chat was all, you know, Beltway bubble stuff. It was, you know, I asked one lady over a British-American dinner something about her husband, because she was mentioning, she mentioned having children. She said, “Ha! Assumptions, assumptions”. You know, it was all politically correct. There was… very little interest in Russia as a country, I think, by the time I had to deal with the OREO guys.

Scott Ritter: [03:42:57]
Right, but if you– did you ever do a solo guys?

Alex Thomson:
Sorry?

Scott Ritter:
Did you ever do a solo?

Alex Thomson:
No, no, that was before my time. I came in–

Scott Ritter:
–just the opposite. Solo guys– There’s a– I… always hate to refer to movies, because they… life isn’t Hollywood. But they did a movie adaptation with Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

??:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
And they have a… gathering of the circus at Christmas time. And you see Santa comes in dressed as Lenin. They’re singing The Internationale, all of their small talk is about Russia, about the Soviets. That was sova. They lived it 24/7, They made jokes in Russian. You couldn’t go out with them. Even if you wanted to talk about American football, they would turn it into something that–

Alex Thomson:
I met some othese old hands. I think some of them ended up at the State Department’s intelligence units, IND, at Foggy Bottom, and a very few went over to Defense Intelligence. The Brits did the same thing. By the end of the 2000s, at the end of my time in service, the Defense Intelligence staff, equivalent of the DIA, was still there in Whitehall in… the… Ministry of Defense during the Russian bean counting– thinking and sleeping and breathing in… Russian. And then they were told, “We’re going to sell one of our two Ministry of Defense buildings, so you’re going to have to cut the defense intelligence staff by as many men as it takes to fit them all in one building. That was the extent of the strategic thinking involved. So again, under the color of money. I think it was more sinister than that. It was, “We don’t want anyone to understand Russia any more, because they will get in the way of what the management consultants tell us.”

Scott Ritter:
Please don’t tell me they closed down the old War Office.

Alex Thomson:
Oh, some years ago, they turned it into a hotel, one of the two, the old or the new, I forget. The one on Northumberland Street has become a hotel some years ago.

Scott Ritter:
Yeah. No. I… used to work with DIS quite a bit when I was in Iraq, and always enjoyed going in the old War Office and then working my way back into the bowels to… get to operation Rockingham and who was doing the Iraq thing. But anyways, back to the… point here. My point is: a new class of Russian expert was… grown in the United States. And I call them Russian exploiters. And then, when Putin came in, they became Putin haters, solely focused on Putin. The interesting– I undertook to actually go and research the academic backgrounds of many of these people– Andrea Taylor, she has a double name; Fiona Hill– and who taught them. The one thing they all have in common is that their PhD theses and their academic focus was authoritarianism. … Authoritarianism in the person of Vladimir Putin.

[03:45:53]
So we have an entire class of so-called “Russian experts” today that don’t know anything about Russia.

Alex Thomson:
Well, it’s cultural Marxist critical theory isn’t it. It goes back to Adorno and Horkheimer and the immediate post-war idea in the Marxism in the west, about the authoritarian personality, you know. So it’s… it has no legitimacy, historically.

Scott Ritter:
None whatsoever. And yet, that’s how our State Department, our Defense and our CIA, and our, and this growing national security community, all view Russia. There’s no more Russian experts. I mean, in the old days, you could literally, I could pluck people– and I’ve done it, because I lived that life– if you went to the American embassy in Moscow and you… [just acted as coach the clean laundry]. So there was no more of free association with Russians. You could only associate with western embassies. And we found most of the other western embassies besides the British to be rather dull. So we associated with ourselves. And so we’d come to Moscow, and we’d sit down. And you– we had an ambassador, Jack Matlock, who was one of the greatest Russian scholars in history. OK, that tells you what the focus is. And the people under him were all Russian experts.

The number two guy the Chargé d’Affairs today in… Moscow knows nothing of Russia. He’s not a Rissian– he is a diplomatic security specialist. Your number 2 man is a diplomatic security specialist, in the most important country in the world today, when it comes to American diplomatic interaction. We don’t have experts. Fiona Hill is not an expert. You know… Anne Applebaum, even though she’s not in government, is not an expert. Susan Glasser is not an expert. These are Putin haters. I call them Putin whisperers, because their job right now is to whisper bad Putin things in the ears of government officials [who make?] policy.

Alex Thomson:
Scott, since our host is a German, we shuld talk a bit about the German BND as well, because right through to my time in the 2000s, the CIA guys who covered Russia would always, after coming to London, they would jet off to Berlin, and they would– well, Munich in those days. And they would say the Germans are very serious continental partners we have to talk to as well. But is it imaginable that the BND, too, has gone down this route? That actually regards the Russians as… uni– you know, one-dimensional cardboard cutout villains. They used to have much, much better penetration, far more Russian speakers and paid agents.

Scott Ritter: [03:28:47]
Well the BND… Here I got to, yeah, I got to, you know, I’ll try to rely only on what’s public. But… you know, the BND through– you know, the CIA used to have a huge station in Munich. And it was where the defectors, that, that’s where the defectors came through, and the refugees. And they were all processed through there. And you plucked out the ones of value, and you either brought them–

Alex Thomson:
Some stayed in Munich to work for Radio Free Europe.

Scott Ritter:
Absolutely. Some were turned around and sent back home. So you know, the… you know, that… used to be a thing. Around 1990, 1991 that stopped. There was just a de-emphasis. You know, Munich used to also produce, through Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, they used to do something called… the foreign intelligence…

Alex Thomson:
Maybe just the FIS, foreign intelligence service.

Scott Ritter:
No, but they used to publish the… press. Every day you could read–

Alex Thomson:
Oh yes, yes, yes. That… was directly subordinated to the CIA later on, as … the American version of BBC Monitoring.

Scott Ritter:
Yeah … newspaper–

Alex Thomson:
The Federal Broadcasting Intelligence Service.

Scott Ritter:
That’s it. And– Information Service. They didn’t call it intelligence. But they, you know, they… used to translate everything. And so even though you weren’t in Rissia, you could reach the Russian newspapers, the local newspapers. You could get a feel. You could get the transcripts of the broadcasts, so you could bring the Russian media to you. That went away. They… just totally shut that down. Germany shifted gears when the Berlin Wall fell. They… became an internally-looking force, dealing with the absorption and the challenges absorbing the… East Germany.

And the Russians became a secondary target, as did everybody. There was no longer– Look, when the United– you know, another program that was run out of Germany that everybody doesn’t want to talk about today was the support for the… Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN. Now OUN used to be supported because they were the center of the Gehlen organization that created the BND, that worked with the CIA, from 1945 on, using the contacts from the Gehlen organization. The CIA helped direct OUN to carry out a insurgency against the Soviet Union.

The OUN did horrible things. They purged the Polish population of western Ukrain, killing hundreds of thousands. They killed, I think the total figure is between 250, 300 thousand civilians died in a 10-year period. 36,000 Soviet security forces died. This was big-time fighting, but they were defeated. It was all CIA-funded. But then the CRA stopped funding the military aspect of it and started funding the political aspect of it. It is the empowerment of the Bandera mentality, the sustainment of Stephan Bandera as a national hero.

So if you want to talk about who gave birth to what’s going on in Ukraine today, it was the CIA. But even in 1990, the CIA stopped funding that because it was no longer considered to be important. There was no longer a priority. So German intelligence– look, if the CIA stops funding, the Gehlen organization’s penetration of Ukraine, then it no longer has happened, Because as much as the Germans like to think they have a wonderful intelligence service, and they do have some capabilities, it’s totally subordinated to the CIA. And the CIA funds much of it, and provides direction for… most of their overseas operations.

Alex Thomson:
It’s pretty similar to how other supposed heavy hitters in intelligence work, such as the Turkish MIT that actually, there is more or less one to one: there’s an American officer looking over the shoulder of every desk officer in these, you know, big intelligence services. I think the exception is the French DGSE [Directorate-General for External Security]. But otherwise, the Germans, the Turks, other serious players, they’re pretty much CIA xxxxx.

Scott Ritter:
[aside] They’re not that good.

Reiner Füllmich:
Scott… I have one, which I consider really important question. You, when you started out, you said, when Putin started out rather he was not
anti-west. On the contrary, part of the population wanted to be, wanted to emulate the western lifestyle, wanted to be integrated. And then over time it look, it seems like they slowly but surely realized that if we, what they’re getting from the west is all talk and no action. And in reality, and I think this is what Putin has finally realized, is, I don’t know who said this, either you or … no; another former adviser to president Reagan, Mr. McGovern.

Alex Thomson:
Ray McGovern.

Reiner Füllmich:
No no, it was Mr. Roberts who told us they’ve, they should’ve known this a long time ago, but they kept trying to be friends with the west, when in reality the west– and I’m not talking about the people; I’m talking about the governments– when in reality, the western governments, in particular the American government and the British and the Germans as well, really were their enemy. Now the… important question is this: we… have to spoken to a number of geo-politicians and… journalists and historians who told us, “Ah, don’t be fooled. Putin, just like Xi Jinping, but Putin is completely in line with the World Economic Forum, because he used to be. He used to be at their meetings. He used to speak very favorably of the World Economic Forum.

[03:54:25]
The big question is: has he finally realized, despite the fact that he, too, went along with the corona, anti-corona measures etc. etc., maybe not as bad as the rest of the world, western world, rather. But has he finally realized that it’s time to disconnect from that World Economic Forum as well? Because, you know, we started out, this committee started out investigating the corona scam, and very quickly realized this is part of the Great Reset, which I come to believe the Ukraine crisis is also part of. Has he understood that he must divorce from that part of the west as well, or is he still with it? What do you think?

Scott Ritter: [03:55:12]
Well, to answer that question, I’ll just take you back to 2007 in the Munich… security conference, where Vladimir Putin was brought in as the keynote speaker, under the presumption that he was going to basically bow down to the west. And… allow the west to– you know, kiss the west’s ring, and they would annoint him, and he would become part of the team, you know. And he did the exact opposite. He gave one of the greatest speeches in modern history. I mean that. Listen to the speech. A, it’s a courageous speech. He’s standing before the collective power of the west. People who have held their nose over him but are getting ready to anoint him as the legitimate successor to Boris Yeltsin. Because now, Putin’s going to play the game. That’s what they thought, because Putin had been talking about wanting to be part of the west.

But Putin came in and said, “I don’t want to be part of you, because you stink.” Literally he told, he said, “You guys revolve around a nation that lies, the United States. They lie. They went to war in Iraq.” “Do you understand what you have done?” I think was one of the lines from his speech. “Do you understand–

Alex Thomson:
That’s the title of Thomas Roper’s first book, by the way, the book of Putin’s speeches translated into German. Do You Understand What You Have Done?

Scott Ritter:
I mean, it’s a wonderful statement, because it’s a bold question. And then he sat down and he said, “The day of the unipolar world is over. That we are no longer going to be part of a world that gravitates solely around the United States. That instead, we are going to build a multi-polar world, of which Russia will be one among equals.” And… this speech was was brilliant. But that’s the point when you realized that Putin was done. But Putin, as I said, he couldn’t just walk away from the west, because he had– his economy was integrated, he had the oligarchs he had to worry about, he still had the… influence of western money. The price of oil hadn’t quite risen to the point where Putin could declare economic independence. I think that came 2012 and after that. But he put the marker on the table, that said, “I am not your tool. I am not your fool.”

Now all– what was necessary from 2007 onwards was to create the conditions for the divorce. And the ultimate condition was that the west would have to initiate divorce, and wow, guess what the west just did: initiated the divorce. It’s the greatest gift Vladimir Putin’s been given by anybody. And the west doesn’t even realize they gave him this gift.

Reiner Füllmich:
Wow.

Alex Thomson:
…a great deal of Weston petulence.

Reiner Füllmich:
Why… do you think he played along, or at least that’s… the impression that we have, he played along with this corona hoax in his country?

Scott Ritter:
Well I… can’t comment on… that. I… think, you know, in terms of, I mean, I think a lot of political pressure was brought to bear by the perception of a… pandemic threat that had to be handled. And again, Putin is not a dictator. He’s a political animal, and he’s held hostage to the same fears that… every other population had. He also had the requirement of how do you, when the world has defined the conditions for interaction to be full vaccination programs, then how do you do this? And he decided that he was going to have a Russian vaccination program, not to be relying on the U.S. etc.

But ultimately, at the end of the day, to be honest, it’s… not something that I’ve spent a lot of time on. I… would hesitate to speak with any authenticity about this.

Alex Thomson:
How about this, Scott, as a… working theory: Putin is known to be quite a germaphobe. He has in common with Trump that he’s germophobic and teetotal. And it seems that he spent some of the initial months of covid in semi-isolation. And seems to have been almost paranoid that the Americans were out to get him through biological means. Could it be that he took one look at covid and thought that this is a U.S. biological attack on China that’s blown back? And could it even be that, with the current Ukrainian situation, he thought, “If I don’t act now, there will be the Russia-focused equivalent of the
China-focused covid biological attack, from the same players.”

Scott Ritter:
It… could be. I… just don’t have any insight into that, to… speak about it in a, in an intelligent or informed fashion. What I… would say, though, is: you know, taking everything you said as… a premise. The Russians [take over] these biological research facilities and gain access to the documentation they contained about the work they were doing would only feed that paranoia. So, you know, we…

Reiner Füllmich:
Yeah.

Scott Ritter:
The United States has a lot to answer for, regarding what the the Defense Threat Reduction Agency was doing in 26 bio laboratories–

Alex Thomson: [04:00:24]
… there as well, you know, because an interesting crossover is in the recently released Russian MOD finds, the documents about Ukrainian receipt or transfer of biological pathogens to the Brits. The name of Professor Maria Zambon comes up a lot, and she is the head of Reference Microbiology for what is now called the UK Health Security Agency, formally known as Public Health England. Her name and official address is on these Ukrainian lab documents, as receiving Ukrainian strains or samples of… biological– of pathogens.

[04:01:01]

[to be continued]

 


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